Quietly tucked away, beneath the lawn at Arts Centre Melbourne, hidden below Inge King’s iconic Forward Surge (colloquially known as ‘The Wave’) is the home of Australia’s performing arts history.
Established in 1975, the Australian Performing Arts Collection is formally recognised as a state collection but has a national focus encompassing the history of the performing arts in Australia across dance, music, opera, theatre, circus, comedy, puppetry and magic. The collection currently holds over 650,000 objects including costumes, set models, stage designs, props and puppets, photographs, posters, programs, and the archives of some of Australia’s most significant performers, companies and designers.
It is not often we get to open our doors to the public, but once a year during Open House Melbourne we get to do just that. During twelve tours over two days, we brought over 100 people through on a whirlwind, showstopping tour of the Australian Performing Arts Collection. So much to see and so little time!
This year the highlights included:
- Dame Nellie Melba’s costume from La Traviata
- Kylie Minogue’s gold hot pants worn in the ‘Spinning Around’ music video
- Geoffrey Rush’s costume worn in Diary of a Madman
- A handwritten notebook by Nick Cave
- Wirth’s Circus scrapbook documenting the early history of Australian circus
- Costumes from Dame Edna’s stage wardrobe
- Peter Allen’s maracas
- MTC’s set model for Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
- Leather jacket worn by Bon Scott of AC/DC
- Designs from Australia’s leading stage designers including Ann Church, Jennie Tate, Mel Drummond and Roger Kirk.
- Not to mention clown shoes, ballet shoes, magic tricks, puppets and much much more!
Thank you to everyone who attended! We absolutely love showing you around and hope to get to share more of Australia’s performing arts history with you. We think this collection deserves a permanent gallery of it’s very own. What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!